Our management team is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Charity and is proud to help lead Team Help for Heroes and work with such a passionate and dedicated group of people.
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Melanie Waters OBE | CEO
Melanie joined us in 2016.
Before taking up her role here, Melanie was Chief Executive at The Poppy Factory, a leading Armed Forces charity which puts the recovery and employment of disabled ex-Service people at its heart.
In addition to her role with us, Melanie holds a number of non-executive roles. She is a Director of the £35m Big Lottery grant-giving body Forces in Mind Trust, a member of NHS England’s Armed Forces Clinical Reference Group, and elected Vice-Chair of Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities).
Melanie's background is in both the commercial and charitable sectors, where she has focused on External Affairs, Business Improvement and Operations for companies such as the AA.
Bryn & Emma Parry
Bryn was commissioned into The Royal Green Jackets in 1975 and served in 1 RGJ and 2 RGJ between 1976 and 1985. He completed one United Nations tour of Cyprus and three tours of Northern Ireland. In 1981 he returned from under a bush in South Armagh and married Emma. He was the last Adjutant of the Rifle Depot at Winchester and held various instructor jobs including teaching jungle warfare in Australia. In 1985 he decided to leave the Army to fulfil his ambition to become a cartoonist.
Bryn and Emma ran their business, Bryn Parry Studios, successfully for twenty two years, designing and selling various gift products illustrated with his cartoons, mostly with a country theme. He has had nine books published including Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Sex in the Country, Horses for Courses and Shooting Top Tips. His most recent book, Shooting Types: The Second Barrel was launched in the summer of 2011.
Bryn and Emma have three grown up children, Sophie, Tom, and Louisa. Tom is currently serving with 2 Rifles and spent the summer of 2009 fighting in the Sangin area of Helmand.
In October 2007 Bryn and Emma, after a visit to Selly Oak hospital, were moved to found Help for Heroes, which supports our wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.
Bryn and Emma live near Salisbury in Downton; their hobbies include country sports, cycling and mountain walking.
Elisabeth Skeet | Services Director
Lis Skeet joined us as Services Director in 2018. Drawing on over 20 years combined charity, commercial and statutory experience, Lis is focused on evidence-led best practice to achieve positive outcomes for service users and other stakeholders. As The Poppy Factory’s Head of Employability Services, she oversaw the delivery, growth and evolution of the service, maximising performance and continually developing quality. Prior to this Lis was a Rehabilitation Services Manager in the insurance sector, leading a field-based team of Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants. Having qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1995 Lis has also worked primarily in neurological rehabilitation within both hospital and community NHS services where she developed a strong interest in occupational rehabilitation. Today, as Services Director, Lis has responsibility for the design and content of the Psychological Wellbeing, Welfare and Veterans Clinical Liaison services, as well as Health and Physical Wellbeing, Career Recovery and Sports Recovery.
Peter Smith | Performance Director
Peter Smith joined us in 2013. Joining the Army in 1973, Peter served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Belize, Canada, Cyprus, and former Yugoslavia. His varied military career has included: Working for the UN Refugee Agency in Sarajevo during the Balkans War. Commanding a Territorial Army Battalion that trained soldiers for operations. And project managing a commercial logistics solution for the Army’s training areas across 180 sites from North Cornwall to the Orkneys.
In 2010 Peter was Project Officer for Army Recovery Capability - working with us on the delivery of recovery at the, then planned, Tedworth House Recovery Centre. Whilst there, Peter oversaw some 750 seriously wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans - all who benefitted from the recovery programmes on offer.
Today, as Performance Director, Peter is responsible for Evaluation and Audit, Grants, Fellowship and the management of the relationship with the Ministry of Defence, including the UK Invictus Games delegation.
Claire Barnes | Head of Grants
Claire Barnes joined us in 2016. A trained Chartered Accountant, Claire has worked in areas as diverse as Receivership and Liquidation to Finance Director of Airwaves. Taking a ten-year career change to teach in both Special Needs and mainstream schooling, the call to use her financial training and make a difference drew her to Help for Heroes. When asked about her role with us, Claire said: "It is both a challenge and an honour every day to work within the Help for Heroes family, supporting our wounded injured and sick from the transition away from their military career to a rewarding, meaningful and secure future."
Ronnie Allen | Head of Career Recovery
Ronnie Allen joined us in 2016. Born in Peru and brought up in Argentina, Ronnie joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 1992.
Amongst one of the first women to go to sea, Ronnie's career took her from the Bridge of various warships, to interpreting for NATO Commanders. Advising the French Navy on Women at Sea, to Britannia Royal Naval College as Assistant to the Commander.
Upon leaving the Navy Ronnie joined the John Lewis Partnership and worked in various managerial roles. During this time the Golden Jubilee Trust funded her secondment with us in order to set up an ILM accredited Coaching Course for both our staff and those we support.
Today Ronnie leads a team with the vision to deliver a comprehensive career service to the wounded, injured and sick in order to inspire and support them on their journey outside of the Armed Forces. Her ultimate aim is to support an individual in achieving a fulfilling, sustainable and purposeful role.
Martin Colclough | Head of Sports Recovery
Martin Colclough joined us in 2011. Having served in Army from the age of 16, Martin's military career developed his interest in rehabilitation and Paralympic sport. This led to a career break in 2006/7 when he worked as the Senior Paralympic Performance Manager at UK Athletics.
In 2008 he helped establish the Ministry of Defence's Battle Back Programme at Headley Court, a founding partner of which was Help for Heroes.
Today, Martin's role is to ensure we remain the leading provider of adaptive sport and adventurous training opportunities to wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel - helping them maintain an active and independent lifestyle, participate in competitive sport and undertake vocational training courses.
Much of this work involves exploiting existing opportunities and developing innovative programs with key partners such as the British Paralympic Association and National Governing Bodies for sport.
John Crudgington | Head of Health and Physical Wellbeing
John Crudgington joined us in 2015. With over a decade of experience in the field of health and wellbeing, John initially set out as a personal trainer before moving into health screening and training delivery. Moving on to join AXA PPP healthcare, he helped develop a corporate wellbeing business to support workplace health and wellbeing. Having worked in private healthcare for some time John decided it was time for a change and joined us as Head of Health and Physical Wellbeing, before moving into the role of Central Operations Manager in 2018.
Ollie Metcalfe | Head of Fellowship
Ollie Metcalfe joined us in 2010. Trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Ollie initially worked as an actress until joining us as part of the Challenges and Events team. Since 2011 she has managed the Band of Brothers Fellowship, and is passionate about making a difference to the lives of wounded, injured and sick, as well as their family members: "I feel incredibly privileged to be able to work with these inspirational men and women and be part of such a fantastic organisation."
NAVAL SERVICE RECOVERY CENTRE, PLYMOUTH
Jock Easton | Recovery Centre Manager
Jock Easton is our Plymouth Recovery Centre Manager. Following a rewarding career in the Royal Navy, Jock's final appointment, as First Lieutenant in Devonport Naval Base, gave him the opportunity to help establish the Recovery Pathway at Plymouth. The role led to his collaboration with Help for Heroes in order to deliver our Plymouth Recovery Centre facilities.
Today, as General Manager of the Recovery Centre, Jock is proud to play a part in offering first class service and recovery support to the wounded, injured and sick based in the South West: "I see Plymouth Recovery Centre taking full advantage of its terrific location to become a unique focal centre for water sports activities, and a centre of excellence for Paralympic training modules."
Clive Emerson, Chief Financial Officer
Clive Emerson is our Chief Financial Officer.
Clive has extensive leisure, FMCG & telecoms experience. Before his role with us, he was Divisional Financial Director during the £3bn listing of Merlin Entertainments.
Robin Punt | Communications Director
Robin Punt joined us in 2013. Since then, he has helped tell the amazing stories of almost 1,000 men and women wounded or injured as a result of their service in the British Armed Forces. His job is to champion the needs of those affected by their service to our country.
Prior to this, Robin spent 14 years as a journalist at the BBC and ITV, including four years at Newsnight. He has reported from Afghanistan, Egypt, Australia and the USA. His journalism has, amongst other things, prompted a change in the law regarding the safeguarding of children and an HM Treasury review of 2,500 public sector employment contracts. He was the first reporter to interview Julian Assange on his release from custody and the last reporter inside MG Rover’s famous Longbridge factory before it collapsed.
Beth Miles | Fundraising and Marketing Director
Beth Miles joined Help for Heroes in February 2017 and is our Fundraising and Marketing Director. Beth and her team are responsible for all of our fundraising activities that raise money to support to our wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. Beth’s team also create and execute our marketing campaigns, which help to drive awareness of the work we do and communicate the ongoing need for donations. In addition, Beth’s team includes Help for Heroes Trading, our retail channel which gifts all of its profits back to the charity.
Beth is passionate about helping us to ensure that every penny we spend on raising funds is spent in the most effective way, to maximise donations for our veterans and their families. She has a wealth of experience in helping brands to develop and communicate their messaging, having previously worked in senior marketing roles at companies including Coca-Cola, GSK and United Biscuits.
Martin Wildsmith | Managing Director of Trading, H4H Trading
Martin Wildsmith joined us in 2018.
In the days when video recorders came in two flavours, VHS or Betamax, Martin started working as a Trainee Manager for Curry’s.
His love of the retail sector has since led him working for many brands, including Smythson, his own online business and most recently Head of Retail for the National Trust:
"I’m thrilled to be part of Team Help for Heroes, and especially proud to be part of an organisation that looks holistically at the support needed by people, far braver than me, who put their life on the line for us."
Kevin Rennie | Strategy Innovations & Partnerships Director
Kevin Rennie joined us in 2017. An experienced Executive Director, Kevin has led major national and global change programmes within the public, private and charitable sectors for over 25 years. Formerly working as a partner-level management consultant, with the likes of KPMG and PA Consulting, Kevin has focused his energy in recent years on helping improve performance and drive collaboration and transformation in the charitable sector.
Today, Kevin is responsible for developing strategy, innovation and partnerships across and beyond the organisation:
"I am excited to help this major national charity secure a fair deal for all those affected by military service."
Mark Elliot | Chief Advocacy Ambassador
Mark Elliot has been with us from the very beginning. Having spent 25 years in the Grenadier Guards and eight years in the insurance industry, Mark was asked by our founders, Bryn and Emma Parry, to help raise money for wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel, Veterans and their families.
On 1 October 2007 the doors to our first base, the Tin Hut, opened… the rest, as they say, is history. Today, as Head of External Operations, Mark is responsible for generating income through the management of our National Volunteer Team, Supporter Relationship Team and National Campaigns Team. In addition to this, he oversees the day to day running of all aspects of the Tin Hut in Tidworth and coordinates all of our major events from concerts to rugby and cricket matches. “My time with Help for Heroes has been exciting, humbling, but above all rewarding.”
Susan Turnbull | Director, People Strategy
Susan Turnbull is our Director for People Strategy. A fellow of CIPD, Susan has worked in Human Resources for over 30 years. Her time in HR has seen her working for John Lewis, British Waterways, Virgin, Viacom and the Carphone Warehouse - where she was Group HR Director.
Prior to joining Help for Heroes, Susan ran her own HR consultancy practice for 16 years and was the CEO for Glotel PLC - a recruitment agency.
Today, Susan's role with us focuses on working with our staff to create an environment where all feel Inspired, enabled and supported.
Meet our wonderful Patrons who give so freely of their time to support our wounded, injured and sick in many activities, spread the message and help us in our fundraising efforts.
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David Richmond CBE
David has been heavily involved in Help for Heroes. As a past Recovery Director, David was responsible for all four Help for Heroes Recovery Centres in Tidworth, Catterick, Colchester and Plymouth. He also looked after the H4H fellowship organisations, Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters; the H4H Sports Recovery adaptive sports and adventure training programmes; Welfare; Psychological Wellbeing; Health and Physical Wellbeing; Training, Development and Education; and Grant giving.
Johnson Beharry VC
Johnson Beharry VC of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment is a British soldier who, on 18 March 2005, was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes on 1 May and 11 June 2004 at Al-Amarah, Iraq. He sustained serious head injuries in the latter engagement.
Major Peter Norton GC
Major Peter Norton deployed to Baghdad in 2005 and at the end of July was very seriously injured by an IED; in March 2006 he was awarded the George Cross for his actions during the incident. Following 11 months of hospitalisation and 14 months of rehabilitation at DMRC Headley Court, Pete returned to study for a MSc in Explosive Ordnance Engineering (EOE) at the Defence Academy in August 2007 and was subsequently appointed ‘SO2 Counter-IED and EOE’ within the Technical Division of the Defence Academy’s College of Management and Technology in Sep 2008. He remained in post until 2013, lecturing and mentoring students on a range of military and post-graduate courses, until retiring on medical ground. An active Fellow of the Institute of Explosives Engineers, Pete sat on the National Council and was Chair of its Technical Committee. Pete is the Vice Chairman (UK) (Chairman (designate)), member of the VC & GC Association and trustee of the VC & GC Benevolent Trust. He is a Director/Trustee of Help for Heroes Recovery Centres (H4HRC) (formerly the Tedworth House Charity) in addition to being a “Hero Patron” of Help for Heroes and a supporter and fund-raiser for SSAFA, ABF, BLESMA and The Felix Fund. Pete has rediscovered his love of photography plus new pastimes and interests such as downhill sit-skiing and hand-biking.
Mark Sutcliffe MBE
Mark served in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment 'the poachers' during his service he has deployed to Northern Ireland ,Afghanistan and Iraq.
During his tour of Basra July 2006 after being ambushed and hit by an RPG his left leg was blown off. After a short recovery he took up the post of a Military Liaison Officer for a period of 4 years at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine looking after the needs of other injured servicepersons and their families.
Mark was awarded an MBE in the Queens Birthday honours list 2012 for his work at RCDM. Having recently left the Army Mark is kept busy representing Help for Heroes and currently training to become an Engineer.
Andy served in the Parachute Regiment for over 25 years reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2). He spent most of his career with the Pathfinders as part of 5 Airborne Brigade and finally 16 Air Assault Brigade. He has been on many operational deployments around the world including Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. In July 2006 during OP HERRICK 4 in Afghanistan he was the WO2 of the Pathfinder Group when his right arm was totally shattered during the bitter and prolonged fighting at Musa Qaleh in Helmand province. Since then he has undergone extensive surgery eight times to repair his arm, been a regular customer at Headley Court and is still undergoing treatment at Kings College Hospital in London. He is an ardent supporter of H4H and has sold merchandise, completed three bike rides and ran the London marathon to raise funds for H4H. Andy currently lives in Fleet, Hampshire.
Chris Moon MBE
After leaving the Army, Chris Moon worked for a charity clearing landmines and the debris of war in Asia and Africa and is one of the few westerners to have survived abduction by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. He was blown up while walking in the cleared area of a minefield in remote East Africa in 1995. Less than a year after leaving hospital, Chris did the London Marathon and subsequently many of the world’s toughest ultra marathons, raising funds for charities assisting the disabled. Shortly after being injured he enrolled on a Masters Degree in Security Management at Leicester University which he completed, wrote his autobiography One Step Beyond and went into business as a speaker and trainer on mindset, motivation and leadership.
Andy Stockton served with 32 Regiment Royal Artillery for 19 and a half years reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. Andy, originally from Chester, has served three tours of Northern Ireland, three tours in Iraq and more recently Afghanistan. Andy lost his arm during an ambush by the Taliban in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 11th June 2006. Andy was medically discharged from the Army on 23rd September this year and lives with his wife in Wiltshire.
General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, President
General the Lord Dannatt was commissioned into The Green Howards in 1971 and served with the 1st Battalion in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Germany and commanded the Battalion in the Airmobile role from 1989 to 1991. From 1994 to 1996 he commanded 4th Armoured Brigade in Germany and Bosnia. He took command of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division in January 1999, and served in Kosovo that year as Commander British Forces. In 2000 he returned to Bosnia as the Deputy Commander Operations of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR). From 2001 to 2002 he was the Assistant Chief of the General Staff in the Ministry of Defence before taking command of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). In March 2005 he took over as Commander-in-Chief Land Command, and assumed the appointment of Chief of the General Staff in August 2006. He retired from the Army in August 2009 to become Constable of The Tower of London. He published his autobiography: “Leading from the Front” in September 2010. General the Lord Dannatt became a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London in July 2010 and in January 2011 he was appointed a Life Peer and sits on the Crossbenches. He has been hugely involved in H4H from the start, both as a Trustee and as a Founder Patron before agreeing to become the first President of the Charity.
Jeremy and Francie Clarkson
Jeremy and Francie were key figures in the launch of Help for Heroes. Jeremy's interest in the Armed Forces and Francie's family connections, her father was Major Robert Cain VC, linked them to the young men and women fighting today. An early visit to Selly Oak Hospital inspired them to do what they could to help the wounded. Both have helped fundraise at numerous events and Francie has cycled hundreds of miles alongside our Battle Back riders to Arnhem on the Bridge Too Far ride and continues to be closely involved in the development of the Charity.
Richard Benyon MP
Richard is the Member of Parliament for Newbury. He was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets in 1981 and served in Northern Ireland and the Far East. On leaving the Army he qualified as a Chartered Surveyor. As well as being a farmer he ran a property business. He is a Minister for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and has taken a great interest in Defence and Security issues. He is married to Zoe and has five sons. In January 2010 he stepped down from the role of Trustee of H4H but will continue to support the Charity in his non-executive role as a Founder Patron.
Air Vice-Marshal John Ponsonby OBE FRAeS
Air Vice-Marshal John Ponsonby spent nine years in the British Army, before transferring to the Royal Air Force to pursue his love of flying. He spent most of his time flying support helicopters in the UK (including Northern Ireland), Germany, Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. His time behind a desk was spent in the Ministry of Defence and Command HQs, working at all levels from being a PSO in CDS' office in General Guthrie's time, to commanding 22 Group RAF as an Air Vice-Marshal. He recently joined Augusta Westland, a helicopter company, as Senior Vice-President Training. In March 2011 he stepped down from the role of Trustee of H4H but will continue to support the Charity in his non-executive role as a Founder Patron.
The Coronation Street star has been a proud Ambassador for the charity for many years and spends much of his spare time campaigning to improve the lives of both serving personnel and Veterans alike.
Antony first became involved with Help For Heroes when one of his friends returned home after serving abroad, in need of support.
“It is a privilege and an honour to be a Patron of Help For Heroes, and I promise that I will do all I can to help.”
Jane is a well-renowned journalist, author and television presenter, has supported us for more than six years. The Loose Women regular and columnist for The Sun is a vocal advocate for better awareness of Veterans’ mental and physical health issues and has raised money for Help for Heroes on several occasions. Jane has been a key part of Help for Heroes, supporting many of our campaigns and visiting our Recovery Centres. In 2016 Jane took on our annual Big Battlefield Bike Ride, cycling through 350 miles of Northern France in support of our wounded, injured and sick.
“I have been involved with Help for Heroes for a long time so it’s an honour to step up to being a Patron for such a worthwhile cause that needs our ongoing support”
Peta has been a key supporter of H4H since the start and has thrown herself into many fundraising events, including the H4H Big Battlefield Bike Ride, toboggan racing and wingwalking. She has even visited Afghanistan to boost troop morale. Peta was one of our most famous page 3 models, featuring in pages from the Sun to FHMs 2008 Calendar and is now a busy writer, mother and professional cycling fan! She truly is the Forces pin-up!
The professional cycling star has joined wife Peta Todd as an official supporter of the Charity. Mark is a perfect fit with the Charity as it continues to grow its strong association with cycling. H4H was founded with a fundraising bike ride in 2007 and has continued to utilise the sport as a great means for the recovery of our wounded heroes.
Mark first became involved with H4H in 2010, when he attended an event in California; here he met Peta who was in the welcoming party for the injured war veterans who had just completed a trans-America charity bike ride. Mark has continued his support of the Charity by visiting Headley Court and the Help for Heroes run Recovery Centres and by meeting numerous brave wounded heroes.
Ross Kemp is an actor, author and BAFTA winning documentary maker. He rose to prominence in the role of Grant Mitchell in the BBC soap opera, EastEnders. Since 2006, Kemp has received international recognition for his investigative documentaries, specialising in the area of gang culture. His latest endeavours have seen him on the front line with British Troops during OP HERRICKS 6, 7 and 9.
Lorraine Kelly is a TV presenter and journalist: "I am honoured to be a Patron of Help for Heroes and to be involved in the incredible work they do. It is so important that we all get the chance to say thank you to our Armed Forces and for them to know how grateful we are for their service and sacrifices." Lorraine is a keen supporter of Help for Heroes Band of Sisters, taking a personal interest in their stories, and is the face of Bake for Heroes.
From the day he was found in a carrier bag on the steps of Guy's Hospital, Andy McNab has lived an extraordinary life. As a teenage delinquent, he kicked against society. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years – on five continents. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS. Since then he has become one of the world’s bestselling writers, drawing on his insider knowledge and experience. As well as three nonfiction bestsellers, he is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone thrillers. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK; works in the film industry advising Hollywood on everything from covert procedure to training civilian actors to act likes soldiers; writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and continues to be a spokesperson and fundraiser for both military and literacy charities.
James was commissioned an officer in the Life Guards regiment, a unit of the Household Cavalry of the British Army. He rose to the rank of Captain and served as an armoured reconnaissance officer in the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo. He was put in charge of leading 30,000 troops into Pristina as the first British officer to enter the Kosovan capital. It was while on duty in Kosovo that he wrote the song "No Bravery".
Simon is a former England Rugby Union International. In 1983, Simon dislocated his ankle and was out of rugby for a couple of years. Part of his recovery was spent at Headley Court, which was also looking after the Falkland Veterans at the time. It was there that Simon says he learnt perspective, and gained an understanding of the bravery and humility of our wounded soldiers. After recovering, Simon went on to represent England in 23 international matches from 1986 to 1992, including the 1991 World Cup and 1992 Five Nations Championship. Simon first became involved with H4H in 2007, contributing to the development of the Charity's swimming pool and rehabilitation centre at DMRC Headley Court. Since then, Simon has supported various H4H initiatives and was instrumental in the organisation of the Heroes Rugby matches in 2008 and 2011, which raised over £2m for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel, veterans and their families.
Sir Ian Botham
"These days the word Hero is used far too often! Over the years I have been inspired by many people, from the incredible young boys and girls with Leukaemia to our brave Servicemen and women, all of them real Heroes. I had the privilege of visiting Selly Oak Hospital some months ago where I met just some of the wounded Heroes from our Armed Services. It was a humbling and inspirational visit.
"Our young men and women of the Armed Forces will say that they are not heroes, they will tell you that they are just blokes doing their job. I think that anyone who volunteers to serve in time of war, knowing that they may risk all, is a hero. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and some of them are living with the consequences of their service for life. We may not be able to prevent Servicemen and women from being wounded, but together we can help them get better. I am delighted to be able to 'do my bit' to help Real Heroes and ask that you do your bit, for only being united can we ensure these courageous young men and women get the very best, they deserve it! I am delighted, honoured and very proud to become a Patron of Help For Heroes. Please join me and Help for Heroes, together we can make a difference."
Chris Holmes MBE MA
Chris Holmes is Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer and was Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, Chris was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as the Lord Holmes of Richmond. Chris currently divides his time between parliamentary work, a role as Head of Disability at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and various speaking, consultancy and charitable commitments.
As a boy Chris was a promising sportsman; on school teams for most sports and academically gifted with a distinct ambition to get to Cambridge University, by no means a normal next step from the Kidderminster Comprehensive he attended. At the age of 14 and completely unexpectedly Chris went blind overnight. His extraordinary courage and determination took him back into the pool, and just four years later to straight A’s for his A-levels and a place at Cambridge. That same year he won a record-breaking six gold medals at the Barcelona Paralympics.
In total Chris won nine gold medals, including the record six gold medals at a single Paralympics. He gained a string of World and European titles, broke 35 world records and was awarded an MBE for services to British sport at the age of 20. He was member of the Great Britain swimming team for seventeen years and captain for five.
After retiring from competitive swimming Chris worked as a journalist before qualifying and working as a commercial lawyer specialising in employment and pensions. He also took non-Executive Director roles at the Disability Rights Commission and UK Sport and was an Ambassador for the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic bid.
In 2009 Chris was appointed Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. In this role, Chris drew on political skills, strategic know-how and his incredible determination to deliver the most successful Paralympics ever. It worked. London 2012 was the first games to have all sponsors signed to both Olympics and Paralympics, the first games to sell out all the stadia for every session and, incredibly, the first games to achieve worldwide television audiences in the hundreds of millions.
In recognition of Chris’s talents and contribution to the country he was invited by the Prime Minister to enter the House of Lords. Chris relishes this new political role and his experiences navigating the ancient corridors of power with guide dog Lottie offer numerous entertaining anecdotes. His priorities as a parliamentarian are business, transport, education, employment, pensions, diversity and inclusion, sports, media and culture.
Since 2013 Chris also serves as non-executive director for the Equality and Human Rights Commission; improving the equality and human rights legislative framework in the UK remains an important priority. Chris is supporter and patron of several other charities including Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Queens Diamond Jubilee Trust and Guide Dogs.
Lady Victoria Leatham
Lady Victoria Leatham was Honorary Colonel of 158 Royal Anglian TA from 1996 until 2003. She managed her family home, Burghley House, home of the International Burghley Horse Trials, until this year when she retired. She is a member of the Court of Drapers Company and one of the experts on The Antiques Road Show. She is a keen supporter of the Armed Forces.
Monty is a high profile figure in the worlds of diving and adventure. This ex Royal Marines Officer has led numerous expeditions and projects throughout the world, and is a marine biologist, travel writer, television presenter and public speaker of note. Monty’s work, undertaking all manner of unusual projects, has taken him around the world to a huge variety of environments.
Ken served in the British Army for 25 years. He started as a tank driver but after being selected for Sandhurst he spent most of his career as an officer with the Queens Regiment and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. Life was never dull and he saw numerous tours of duty in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, (while on secondment to the Royal Marines) and eventually became an SAS Troop and Squadron Commander where as he puts it 'he got sent away to some very unsafe places and couldn't tell anybody anything about it'! Ken's experiences in the Army led him to other careers in television, public speaking and leadership training. He recently made a moving and much acclaimed documentary on BBC1 that highlighted the plight of homeless servicemen and women. His series Beyond Boundaries on BBC2 has done a lot to change perceptions about disability and he is currently working on a new series to be filmed this year that will tell the story of injured soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their battle back to fitness. In what spare time he has Ken is mad about expeditions, climbing and rugby and lives in Bristol. Ken is passionate about the work of Help for Heroes and is planning his own challenge to raise money and awareness.
Anneka has worked with the forces for over 20 years. Memorable (to her anyway) projects include becoming an Honorary Sapper in the Royal Engineers and getting stuck half way down a death slide; landing a helicopter on top of a submarine during "Treasure Hunt", and presenting "Combat" for ITV, where regiments competed in gruelling physical challenges. The Forces have helped her on numerous "Challenge Anneka" missions and she is delighted to be involved with Help for Heroes.
In 2003, when she was only two years old, Lydia contracted Meningitis with Septicaemia. After being placed on life support and suffering multi organ failure, she pulled through but after countless operations she still had to have below knee double amputations. Lydia, now 14, never lets her disability stop her doing what she wants. She wanted to raise money for Help for Heroes and decided all on her own to do a sponsored swim. The swim was only planned to be 20 Lengths but then on the day, with Matt Kingston and family and friends cheering her on, Lydia swam 64 lengths in 64 minutes, 1 mile, raising just over £13,500. Lydia and her family then organised a 1 mile run/walk in Braunton to raise money for H4H, the sponsorship of which went towards Matt and Ben’s 2010 London Marathon total. Ben and Mark Ormrod both came to support Lydia on her 1 mile run along with hundreds of people. Since then Lydia has climbed Pen-Y-Fan and completed the London Marathon on her handbike to fundraise for H4H. "Ben McBean, Mark Ormrod and Matt Kingston are Lydia’s heroes," explains Lydia’s mum Jodie, "They’ve made Lydia feel proud of herself, feel proud to show her legs off – it is totally due to them. The reason why Lydia wants to do so much for these men and raise money for them is because in her words, 'They have got leggies like me and I want to help."
Gill Shaw ABIPP AMPA
Gill has been a professional photographer for 18 years and has photographed celebrities, royals, presidents and prime ministers on a regular basis. Gill’s first book, ‘Slightly Offstage’, raised funds for ‘Society of Stars’. Gill also won the photographer of the year for her involvement in opening a clinic in Africa for ‘Support for Africa’. In September 2009, Gill launched ‘The Hero Inside’ book and exhibition to raise funds for Help for Heroes. In October 2009, Gill also received a Special Recognition Award for her inspirational work on behalf of charities.
Viscount Brookeborough was involved with the Security Forces in Northern Ireland for 30 years and is only too aware of the vital part Headley Court has played in the recovery of the hundreds of Servicemen and women wounded in that time. Now that the conflict in Northern Ireland is resolved, the need for our world class rehabilitation centre continues and he is delighted to offer his support to Help for Heroes to enhance the lives of our wounded Service Personnel.
HMS BULWARK, the Royal Navy's FLEET Amphibious Flagship capable of Commanding a Brigade level Amphibious Assault. Launched in November 2001 she has a ship's company of 390, a quarter of whom are made up from 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (4ASRM). BULWARK's fundraising efforts and involvement with the Big Battlefield Big Bike Ride has led to her being described as 'Help for Heroes favourite ship'.
RAF LOSSIEMOUTH is the largest and busiest fast-jet base in the Royal Air Force. The Station is home to 3 operational squadrons of Tornado GR4s, the Tornado GR4 Operational Conversion unit, a Sea King Search & Rescue Flight, an RAF Regiment Field Squadron and an RAF Regiment Auxiliary Squadron, as well as an extensive range of operational, logistic and administrative support functions. Their day-to-day task is to train and prepare for the projection of air power on operations world-wide. Their commitment of people and aircraft to current operations is wide-ranging and continuous: together with the rest of the RAF, they make a pivotal contribution to the defence and security interests of the UK. They are also a major and well-integrated part of the local community in Moray, an outstandingly beautiful part of Scotland.
Regular donations provide a sustained focus on rebuilding the lives of our wounded Servicemen and women.